Book Review: The Words We Keep

By Erin Stewart 

4 Stars 

Trigger warning: Self-harm, suicide, mental health  


The Words We Keep, written by Erin Stewart, is a book about mental health, finding yourself, and the power of family and love. Lily didn't want to think about it. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Ever since she found her older sister, Alice, with a blade pressed to her wrist, things just weren't the same. Alice was shipped away to a treatment center - the place that Lily hoped would fix her sister. Just as Lily had gotten used to forgetting it all, she found out that Alice would be coming home early. Lily assumed that she would be "fixed." But to Lily's dismay, Alice was still "broken." What's more, she just wasn't Alice. She used to be so energetic, with her big ideas that never stopped flowing, her big head of hair, and her beautiful smile. It was as if rehab had taken the life out of Alice, leaving only her body. Through the whole mess, Lily met Micah at school, one of Alice's friends from treatment. Micah wore bold outfits and had quite a bold personality to match. Being Lily's partner on a school project, the two teenagers spent a considerable amount of time together. Through this, Micah slowly helped Lily bring the words she HERSELF keeps to the surface. As time went on with Alice back at home, it was harder to pretend everything was fine. In fact, Lily herself started to question her own mental health. Was she broken? Was she following in the footsteps of her big sister?  


This novel helps eliminate the stigma around mental health. It highlights to readers that they are not alone and that it's perfectly normal not to be okay. This was a great novel. Although the book isn't extremely gripping and fast-paced, I loved the storyline and was able to finish it within merely a few days. A lot of parts and aspects of the story were quite relatable to me and emotionally touched me. The only thing I didn't like very much was the ending. It moved way too fast and felt quite rushed - it didn't exactly leave you with a very satisfying end to the story. In conclusion, The Words We Keep is an excellently written novel. It thoroughly depicts the mental health struggles that surround us in everyday life. 


Reviewed by Sarah

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